Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the newest entry into Marvel Cinematic Universe as phase 4 gets underway. It’s the hefty 2 hour 14-minute origin story of Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), who was originally based on Bruce Lee.
The first portion of the film is entirely in Mandarin and is Wenwu’s story over 1000 years, ending with his quest to find a mythical village. This is when he meets Shang-Chi’s mother, Li (Fala Chen), who prevents him from entering the village, by beating him in hand-to-hand combat. They subsequently fall in love and our hero is born.
The film jumps to the present (after the snap) day, where Shang-Chi, AKA Shaun, is a valet, with his friend, Katy (Awkwafina). After Shang-Chi is tracked down by his father’s henchmen, he decides to travel to Macau, with his bestie in tow, to warn his sister, Xialing (Meng’er Zhang). They’re all subsequently captured by Wenwu. Wenwu announces that they need to go to the mythical village, destroy it, and free their (deceased) mother from her people. Shang-Chi and crew aren’t going to go along with that, so they leave in order to try and reach the village before him.
When they reach the mythical, magical village, which is where the remainder of the film plays out. They meet Ying Nan (Michelle Yeoh), their aunt, who informs them that these soul-sucking creatures are fooling their father into opening a portal. Of course, that is exactly what Wenwu proceeds to do. What ensues is an elongated, CGI-fest fight, as you would expect from a Marvel film.
While Shang-Chi was the main character, and Simu was very charismatic and charming, the real VIP in this film was Tony Leung. He made an immortal terrorist, pining after his deceased wife, sympathetic. The film was truly Wenwu’s story, and Leung did well with the character in his Hollywood debut.
The film did deliver, mostly, on the martial arts. The fighting choreography was good, but there was an issue with the camerawork at some points. During the fight on the bus, which was shown in all the trailers, the director opted to zoom out in some places or focus on Awkwafina (more on her in a bit). The question is, why? Why cut away from the interesting fighting on the screen in favour of CGI and an obnoxious side character? The best scene for me in the entire film was the full-blown wuxia-style fight scene beginning between Wenwu and Li.
I had a hard time rating this as high as a 4 because there was one huge annoyance for me in the film. Awkwafina didn’t need to be in this film. Her character was completely unnecessary. I spent the entire movie wondering why exactly her character existed in the story at all. Sure, she came in at the end with a clutch move to help our heroes, but literally, anyone else could have done it, like Michelle Yeoh. The only thing I think that she may have provided people was comic relief, but here’s the thing, she wasn’t funny. She was just plain annoying.
Shang-Chi was overall, a good time to watch. However, in the end, it was still a Marvel film. Marvel attempted to use the same formula it did with Black Panther for Chinese culture and mythology. Did it work? For the most part, it did. Will I see it again? Most likely. Does it entice me to continue watching MCU films? No.
See all photos >>
I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.